Thursday, November 19, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Sweet Potatoes

by Lisa Garvalia
Sweet Potato Harvest
Sweet potatoes, the sweet vegetable that you don’t have to feel guilty eating! Sweet potatoes are a great source for our daily nutritional needs. They are packed full of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, iron, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. They are cholesterol free, have no saturated fats and are full of antioxidants. Oh, and did I mention they are sweet and delicious as well?

So, how does the sweet potato get that delicious sweet flavor?  Choosing the right variety of sweet potato, good soil, adequate watering and close monitoring during the growing season are all necessary to get the best tasting sweet potato. After the sweet potatoes are dug and brought in from the field, they are immediately put in the greenhouse and left to cure. The curing process is what changes the starch in the sweet potato to sugar and also ‘toughens’ up the skin so they can be easily handled and have a longer storage potential. The greenhouse is kept at a constant temperature of 85-90 degrees with the humidity level being the same and the process takes up to 7-10 days.

Sweet Potatoes Curing in the Greenhouse
Sweet potatoes do store well and they get better with age. The ideal storage for sweet potatoes, because of the high sugar content, is 55-60 degrees. Keep them in a dry, dark, well ventilated area. Sweet potatoes are sensitive to colder temperatures so keeping them at or above the suggested temperatures is best. If you do find spots on your sweet potatoes during storage it is a good idea to cook and freeze them if you are unable to eat them right away.

Sweet potatoes are very versatile when choosing how to cook them. They pair well with a variety of ingredients including apples, oranges, coconut, cranberries and limes. Common spices used with sweet potatoes include cumin, coriander, chilies, thyme, rosemary, chili powder, curry powder and more. If you want to keep it basic you can simply place a sweet potato in the oven and bake until tender. Cut it open and add butter, salt and pepper, or keep it in the fridge for a simple left-over, just warm and serve.

Best Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Apples

Yield:  6 servings
3 pounds sweet potatoes
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2 Tbsp heavy cream
½ cup applesauce
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 apples, peeled & cored
3 Tbsp sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet;  pierce each several times with a fork.  Bake until very tender when pierced with a knife, about 50 minutes.  Remove from oven;  let cool slightly.
  2. Cut open potatoes;  scoop flesh into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (may also use a food processor).  Add 2 Tbsp butter and the cream, and beat until smooth.  Add applesauce and ginger;  beat to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer sweet potato mixture to an ovenproof serving dish.  Place in oven until heated through, 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the apples into 1-inch pieces.  Melt remaining butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add apples and sugar;  saute until golden and nicely caramelized, about 8 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  
  5. Remove serving dish from oven and top with caramelized apples.  Serve immediately.

Recipe sourced from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2003.

Sweet Potato Rolls

Yield:  20 rolls
¼ cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast (1 scant Tbsp)
1 cup milk
⅓ cup unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
1 ½ Tbsp coarse salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 cups cooked sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
7 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for bowl
Melted butter, for brushing
  1. Place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until yeast is dissolved and mixture is foamy.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat just until it begins to steam and bubble around the sides. Remove from heat; add the butter, and stir until melted and combined. Stir in sugar, salt and cardamom. Let cool slightly.
  3. Combine sweet potatoes and lemon juice in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in egg, and the milk and yeast mixtures until smooth.
  4. Switch to the dough-hook attachment. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, beating until dough forms. Continue kneading dough on medium speed until smooth, about 8 minutes. The dough will be slightly sticky.
  5. Transfer dough to large oiled bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Punch down dough and turn onto a clean work surface. Knead again with your hands, just until smooth. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut dough into 20 equal pieces, and shape into round rolls.
  7. Place rolls on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart; cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise again in a warm place until double in bulk, about 40 minutes.
  8. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife, snip an X in the top of each roll. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake until tops of rolls are golden, about 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Note:  Excellent served with the Cranberry Maple Butter recipe featured in our fruit newsletter on November 22, 2014.

Recipe sourced from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2003.

No comments: